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Iquique 2009

Iquique 2009 Paragliding Championship

Iquique is located in the northern part of Chile along the Pacific Ocean, 180 km. south of the Peruvian border. The city has a population of 300.000 and is thriving due to the duty free zone in this northern part of Chile. This area is also known as the Atacama Desert, which is why the flying conditions are so consistent. It NEVER RAINS, and the wind is always coming from the Pacific Ocean from the southwest generating incredible lift along the 180 km. range between Tocopilla to Iquique. The ridge varies between 500 and 1.200 mt. altitude and XC flights can be done in both directions quite easily. In November, the breeze normally starts blowing at 10 AM, and lift lasts until 7 PM. There are several takeoffs near Iquique and all of them allow pilots to reach beach landings while flying above the city, sea and the dunes.
To the south of Iquique, you can find Palo Buque at 20km from the city. It became famous when the SAT Team shot their first video here. The launch is at the “bottom” of a 3,000 foot sand ridge! Yes, depending on the wind, you only need to kite your glider up 30 feet or so and then you can soar all the way up to the top of the dune to start an XC flight back to Iquique, practice top landing, ski in the sand, or just enjoy the beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean!
Patillos is another site that deserves to be mentioned. This site allows pilots to fly a 70 km. XC flight back to Iquique to land at the Cavancha Beach between palm trees and the Choza Bamboo restaurant and bar were you can drink a beer after the flight!  The thermal and dynamic flying conditions in Iquique are so consistent the flight is possible almost everyday of the year! After a hard day of flying it doesn’t get much better then to dine out at one of Iquique’s many restaurants to feast on Chile’s well known sea food and pisco sour.
Every year at the end of October the Chilean  Association organizes one of the international championships. This is the story the 20th XC FAI2 desert competition in Iquique.
The competition consist of four tasks between 50 and 70 km long. Two tasks from Patillos flying over coastal desert range toward Los Verdes or direct to Cavancha beach and two tasks from Alto Hospicio racing, between multiple waypoints over the city, landing on Cavancha beach. The competition has FAI2 status.
Additionally there was a special category for new pilots who just started their adventure with paragliding and wanted to improve their skills.

 Eitel Von Muhlenbrock

Iquique 2009
1st Task (28.10.2009)
At the beginning I was very nervous, because I had a lot of thoughts in my head: I was in charge of the inauguration, I had to make a speech and I had to host the local leadership.  I had also received my Magus 6 two weeks before and I did not imagine how it would fly in hard conditions using the speed bar at lest 40%.
Well, today early in the morning we start with the inauguration of the championship, there are local authorities’ and pilots from the entire competition.
The organization and the meeting pilot decide on the first task for us. It is 67km, a very long flight over the city.
The start point was the take off (exit of the Cylinder) and the stadium of the city was the first waypoint, the conditions at this time were very weak and the back wind made a lot of the pilots go directly into the ground. Then, we had to fly to Playa Blanca, this waypoint is 15km. to the south of Iquique. I reached the waypoint in first position using 40% of my speed bar and in second place, 300mts. behind me, was always the Colombia Daniel Vallejos flying his Gin boom 6.  During the entire task I was laddering and the position of the rest of the pilots was always changing. Finally I finished this task in 2 hours and 10 minutes. The Colombian came in second, 20 minutes later.  I was very impressed and happy with my Magus 6. The flight and glide using the speed bar was very stable.

Eitel Von Muhlenbrock

Iquique 2009
2nd Task (29.10.2009)
After I won the first day by a full 20 minutes, I really wanted to win the second.  Task was: SP in the Flypark 3km in front of the take off, then go back to takeoff, and we continue to Marinero Desconocido. It is 10 km to the North. This area is very complicated because you don’t have enough altitude to reach the waypoint and you must use a strategy to go there and return through the flats over the city to the next point which is playa Blanca (17km from the previous point.)
In the Marinero Desconocido (turn Point number 1) the wind was north (difficult) and we found some cloud formations to improve the glide.
From the beginning I was in front with the 2 boom 6, 2 FR3 and Up targa and also 2 Icepeak.  During the flight I was under a lot of personal pressure because I didn’t want to make a mistake.
Finally, the last waypoint was a buoy in the sea, called Esmeralda. This is the first time that we put a waypoint like this into a task since it is quite difficult to reach.  It is 1k from the coast. That waypoint gave me the necessary distance to win the second task, arriving 17 min. ahead of the other pilots.

Eitel Von Muhlenbrock

3rd Task (30.010.2009)
Now we change the scenario.  The competition moved to Patillos this is another place. This site allows pilots to fly a 70 km. XC flight back to Iquique and today the task goes directly to Iquique. The goal will be to land at the Cavancha beach.
The conditions for the flight look good but I am worried, because the weather said, the wind direction will be North, this mean that we have to fly in front the wind.
I was really feeling the pressure, I had spent two days in first place and I didn’t want to make a mistake.
The SP. Was the take off and I start in second place, 200 mts. behind Mike Cristiansen, who flies his boom 6. During the first 25km. the position didn’t change, but I pushed a bit more than him. He didn’t want to lose his 200mt. and always was losing altitude, he passed lot of thermals.  Suddenly I found a strong thermal that lifted me to base at 800m and was enough to continue the race in front of the pack.
I continued to the most difficult part called Punta Gruesa. It is a big mountain and with the north wind you can find rotors and strong turbulence. I looked at my instruments and the speed was 7km it seemed like I was standing still.
I looked to my left and the Colombian, Daniel Vallejos was right there. Together we tried to pass the corner of the mountain and we get into a big descent with a 5m/s sink.  I didn’t realize that all the other pilots are one km . behind us and flying back to climb. This mistake put me on the ground. By not finishing, I went from first position to number 4. “Bad Day”.

Eitel Von Muhlenbrock

4th Task (31.10.2009)
This was the last chance to do something, every pilot wanted to make this a very simple task, because they didn’t want to risk their positions. The task was SP mina de Sal, (3km in front of the take off), then Laguna 7km. to the south. We then continued to Los Verdes and Punta Gruesa. Finally we would return to the goal, Los Verdes.

The weather was the same as the day before and the clouds were very low. This means that the flight would be very soft and complicated. At the beginning it was very difficult to find a thermal and climb enough to reach the start point.
The final race to goal started and I chose the wrong way to get to the first waypoint, during all the transition I was descending 5m/s sink.  I looked down at my instruments and I had already lost half of my height. At that moment I realized that it would be suicide to continue to the waypoint and I decided to fly back to find another chance to climb.
During my return I looked at the sky and every other pilot went directly to the waypoint. I was in last place, very disappointed and angry with my self. The laddering pilot would take me 8km at least.
Well a said, “the competition is never over until it is over. Do your best and enjoy the flight.”
I started flying very fast, no mistakes with a full speed bar and one I began to pass the other pilots. In the end my final decision was correct.  In los Verdes I was in second place and flying to the last waypoint. I found a strong thermal that lifted me to base at 800m.  I thought this is the last thermal and was pushing everything to the limit that day. I said “Ok lets go and see what happens.”
I got to the goal in first place at a height of only 70m. For me, this was “The day”, and a great final task.  I may not have won the entire competition, but I won three of the four tasks and I was only two points off the lead after failing to complete an event.  It goes without saying, my Magus 6 gave me some special moments.

Eitel Von Muhlenbrock
Mac Team


The final results for the Chilean Completion were:

2nd place Eitel Von Muhlenbrock (Magus 6)

MAC PARA congratulate!

Eitel Von Muhlenbrock